Oliver’s appeal takes a major step forward
PUBLISHED: 10:25 07 March 2016 | UPDATED: 10:25 07 March 2016
A little boy’s dreams of being able to walk unaided are closer to becoming a reality after the community rallied round to raise almost £23,000 in just three months for a vital operation.
The money means five-year-old Oliver Whittington, from Oulton Broad, will be able to have the life-changing operation at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital in just five weeks’ time.
Oliver was born 12 weeks premature, and suffered with a bleed on the side of his brain, which meant he spent two months in a neonatal intensive care unit.
He was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which has meant that he can’t stand or walk unaided and needs help to do things that other children take for granted.
He had been chosen for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery, which helps to improve his walking and posture – but the family needed to raise £24,000 needed for the operation, as it is not available on the NHS.
About the surgery
The operation Oliver needs is called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) and involves neurosurgery, where some nerves will be cut in the spinal cord.
This surgery will permanently remove all the tightness in Oliver’s legs and help him improve his walking, posture and gain flat feet so that, hopefully, he will perhaps one day be able to walk unaided.
The Whittington family therefore started the Oliver’s Footsteps campaign in December, with the aim to “get Oliver walking”.
But Oliver’s parents Tom and Clare Whittington said they did not realise just how generous the community would be and how they would rally round in support.
“It has just completely blown us away,” Mrs Whittington said.
“People are so generous. You do not realise just how many people in the community are willing to help – whether it be donating a prize for the raffle, to having a lovely 97-year-old lady and peoplewe do not know donate to the appeal.
Events help boost appeal
A series of fund-raising events have been held since the campaign launched last December – but there is still more to do and other fund-raisers are planned. The campaign to raise money will continue as Oliver will need intensive physiotherapy – with support from The Kids Physio Works – and specialist equipment once he has had the operation. This is estimated to cost a further £7,000, on top of the £24,000 target. The Spring Tide pub and restaurant, on Kirkley Rise, has chosen Oliver’s Footsteps campaign as the main fund-raising partner for 2016. And two Saturday’s ago, a raffle and coffee morning at Spring Tide raised more than £4,000. To support the family, visit www.gofundme.com/mkdh8nhg or type Oliver’s Footsteps into Facebook.
“It has been phenomenal. We never, ever thought we would get this far and that it would be possible.
“We are lucky we live in a town like Lowestoft – you need a community like we have here, who have all rallied round to raise the monies.”
Oliver will now go to London at the end of the month for a pre-operation assessment. His operation has been brought forward to April 16 from its original June date.
The family will be based in London for about three-and-a-half weeks, with Oliver likely to be off school for about eight weeks. Although he will miss his school friends,
Mrs Whittington said: “Oliver has been in and out of hospital so much, he will take it all in his stride. Nothing fazes him at all, he is very determined, and has a positive attitude.”
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